to Bring to a Front Sight Firearms Course
Part 2 - Other essential gun related things you must
A speed loader such as
this HKS unit represents the best $15 you'll ever spend on
accessories for your handgun.
Part of a series on the Front
Sight Firearms Training Institute; what it does, how it does
it, and its relevance for you. Please click the links
on the right hand side for other parts of the series.
In this part of the three parts
about what to bring to a Front Sight training program, we give
you some advice that might at first seem surprising - bring an
empty magazine that you'll never load but always keep empty.
Read on to find out why.
And talking about loading,
having a properly matched speed loader designed for your
size/shape of magazines will save you enormous hassle.
Don't forget a good holster,
and good magazine pouches too. You don't want to waste any
avoidable milliseconds on slower draws of your weapon or slower
Lastly in this part, some good
news. Don't worry too much about gun cleaning.
This is an interesting
device and concept. A practice gun is a plastic replica of
a gun, typically in bright red or orange, and obviously looking
unlike a real gun.
It can be used to practice
drawing your weapon, sighting in, and such drills, and it has
two main benefits. The first is that it absolutely can not
ever be fired, so it is 100% safe. The second is that
other people around you can clearly see that you have a pretend
gun rather than a regular gun, so neither you nor they need to
be concerned if as part of your training you should
inadvertently point it at them.
If a neighbor sees you
through the window, they won't call the police, but instead will
laugh to themselves. That's vastly preferable.
Beware of practicing with a
There are huge dangers of
practicing with a real gun. We were told several stories
of when people were practicing with a real gun, and somehow in
part of the practice, the gun became loaded and was fired, with
Front Sight have formed a very sensible set of procedures for
safe dry practice with a real weapon, including such things as
not being in the same room as any live ammunition, and other
procedures to try and ensure you never make a terrible mistake
when dry practicing, and the best approach is simply never to
practice with a real gun. Unfortunately, you will probably need a real
gun to practice malfunction clearing drills, so the best you can
hope for is to minimize the occasions when you need to use a
real gun, and religiously follow the Front Sight protocols on
Front Sight Practice Gun
In theory you get a practice
gun included in the set of gear you get when renting a gun kit,
but I don't think anyone at our range got one. So if you
want something to practice with in the evenings (and if you're
renting a Front Sight gun, you're not allowed to take it off
their location) you might want to think about spending $40 or so
on a practice gun.
Pistol Issues for Left Handers
I'm a left hander myself, as
is about 10% of the rest of the population. Unfortunately,
(almost) no firearm is primarily designed for us left handers. Instead, all
firearms are designed for right-handed people, and then may have
a varying degree of accommodation for left handed people with
some ambidextrous components.
Because you're going to be
firing in tightly timed intervals, you need to get a weapon that
is as easy to handle from your left hand as possible. This
is another reason to choose a Glock 17 Gen4 - the magazine
release can be switched over to the other side, allowing it to
be operated by your left hand without having to shift your grip.
As mentioned above, all Glock
17's have no safety lever on them, so that is one less hassle,
no matter whether you're left or right handed.
The only remaining issue is
that of the slide lock lever, and this can't be modified without
some expensive and probably not advised custom gunsmithing.
However, there is an alternate larger sized slide lock lever
which Glock offer and recommend as a partial solution for left
handers, and so you should replace the small lever with
this larger one, and that will give you more options and
leverage for operating it with either hand.
In addition, the new (as of
late 2017) Gen 5 Glocks now have an ambidextrous slide lock lever
too, making them now perfect for either left or right handed
One more issue.
Frontsight now require that if you have a pistol with a thumb
operated safety, that it can be operated by the thumb of your
shooting hand. Again, this is only an issue for left
handers, but if you are bringing for example a Browning Hi-power
or a 1911 type pistol, you would need to be certain to have one
that has an ambidextrous safety lever on both sides.
Bring at least three
magazines. That way you can have one in your gun and two,
loaded and ready, on your belt.
A fourth magazine is
helpful. This could be kept permanently empty. I've
sometimes traveled with five or even six empty magazines
(justification for six : Four loaded, and two for dry
So why should you have a
permanently empty magazine with you, too? I
lost count of the times that I'd just finished reloading my magazines only to be told 'place an empty magazine
in your weapon' (eg as part of doing an emergency reload drill),
which means I then have to thumb out all 17 rounds that I've
just squeezed into the magazine. Yuck.
A spare empty magazine would
save this hassle and help you to be more relaxed and less
stressed while on the range.
If you're shooting a pistol
with a lower capacity magazine (ie 10 or less rounds) you might
want to bring another magazine or two so as to have more
rounds loaded into magazines and at the ready at all times.
Sometimes there is a chance to
shoot an extra course of fire, and if you've depleted your loaded
magazines, you'll be unable to take advantage of that. So I
always make sure I'm awash in fully loaded magazines and able to
take advantage of any additional opportunities that might come my
Also, if you take a break to
go to the bathroom, that might eat into the time you would
otherwise be reloading, so again, it is prudent and sensible to
always have more loaded magazines than you need, and never run
them all dry.
Front Sight Magazine Options
If you rent a pistol from
Front Sight, you'll also receive three magazines as part of the
If you are renting their
1911 type Springfield, it will of course come with three
standard 7 round magazines. We suggest buying a couple
more magazines in such a case to give you more capacity.
If you are renting their
Springfield XD 9mm, it will come with 10 round magazines.
Front Sight advise that the XD does not reliably feed if you
load the magazine to its full 10 round capacity and recommend
only placing 8 rounds in each magazine, so you should consider
buying and bringing another one or two magazines with you to
give you a greater supply of ammunition ready-loaded into
There is also a bit of a
subtle issue when renting a Glock 17 from them. Sometimes
you'll find that at least one of the three magazines they
provide is a 10 round magazine rather than the standard 17 round
magazines that are normally provided with a Glock 17. You
might want to buy one more Glock magazine to bring with you,
that way you'll probably end up with at least three 17 round
magazines, and the fourth one, whatever its capacity, can be
used as your spare empty magazine for when you need to do some
weapons handling practice drills.
For the purpose of this
course, we recommend a formed hard plastic shell type holster,
to be worn on a belt around your waist, and designed so the gun
will be facing straight down inside the holster.
Do not bring a holster with
any type of locking mechanism - it will slow you down when
drawing as fast as you can in the timed target tests.
In particular, Frontsight now
ban retention holsters that require you to depress a locking lever
with your trigger finger (the Blackhawk Serpa holsters are
probably the best known example of these). There have been
some cases - at Frontsight and elsewhere - of negligent discharges
resulting from incorrect use of this type of holsters.
while holsters that rake the weapon on an angle look nice and
are sometimes more comfortable to wear, this too will slightly
slow down your drawing speed (because the best draw starts off
with you lifting your weapon vertically from the holster) and will
again cost you fractions of a second and thereby reduce your score.
This range type holster is
probably very different to the type of holster you'll wear when
carrying a weapon in public, either concealed or not, but to get
the best results and outcome from the Front Sight training, this
is the type of holster you should use.
In particular, do not bring
any sort of holster that isn't pre-formed and molded to the
contours of your pistol. Front Sight will not allow you to
use such shapeless holsters, due to the increased change of a negligent
discharge while reholstering your weapon.
The holster must have
complete protection around the trigger area (for obvious safety
reasons) and firmly hold the pistol in place.
Also, do not bring a
cross-draw holster. While perhaps good for concealment,
they are terribly dangerous in a range situation due to the fact
that the gun's muzzle will be pointing in all sorts of different
directions during your drawing and reholstering moves.
Front Sight Holster Options
As best we could tell, the
Front Sight holsters, one of which is provided with every pistol
rental, seem excellent, and you can specify whether you require
a left or right handed holster.
You should bring some sort
of pouch that will securely hold two magazines for your pistol.
This would be mounted on your belt. It should hold the
magazines securely, but not too securely, so you can rapidly grab
one without having to unsnap anything or struggle against a too
tight fit. When you are doing timed reloading type
activities, it is essential that you can get a new magazine with
no problem or delay.
If you are shooting a 1911
type weapon with 'low' capacity magazines (7 or 8 rounds) you
might choose to bring two double magazine holders, giving you
access to four magazines and more spare ammunition. At
times you will be using a lot of ammunition very quickly, and if
you have just the magazine in your gun and two spares, that
means you've somewhere around 20 rounds at your disposal, which
might end up being not enough, particularly because you'll be
doing tactical reloads with partially depleted rather than fully
Front Sight Magazine Pouch
You will get one pouch that
holds two magazines as part of your pistol rental package from
Front Sight, and as best we can tell, the pouch/holder they
supply is perfectly good.
With all the loading and
unloading and shooting you'll be doing, a speed loader is
absolutely essential. This is the best $15 you'll ever
If you're using a Glock, you
probably have a speed loader that came as part of the accessory
kit included when you purchased the weapon. That is a
great unit and has the benefit of being compact and easy to
carry in a pocket. Some other pistols also come complete
with a speed loader when you buy the pistol new.
Whatever you're using, try
and get a speed loader that closely fits your specific magazines
rather than an overly generic one which might not work
conveniently. At a cost of perhaps $15 or less at
Amazon and of course many other places too,
a speed loader is an essential
Front Sight Speed Loader
In theory, your pistol
rental package comes with a speed loader, but it seemed that
perhaps half the people - maybe more - did not get speed loaders
in their rental packages.
explanation for this was they had run out.
Due to occasionally
unloading and reloading magazines, occasionally ejecting unfired
rounds, etc, if you expect to fire 500 rounds, this means you'll
probably end up loading at least 600 rounds into your magazines,
and so we strongly urge you to ensure you have access to a good
ergonomic speed loader that is designed to closely fit the
magazines you'll be loading.
Speed loaders are generally
inexpensive, so the investment in buying one optimized for your
magazines and bringing it with you, even if Front Sight might
provide one, is well worth it.
Oh yes - ammunition.
As mentioned above, we recommend bringing your own, or ordering
some mail order and having it shipped to your Pahrump hotel.
You'll save $100 or more over
the cost of buying it at the Front Sight Pro Shop, and if you're
like me, you'll find it a good excuse to use up old ammo that
you've had lying in the back of your gun safe for an uncertain
number of years.
You should bring some type
of generic full metal jacket round. Save the exotic rounds
for defense purposes at home, not for range work.
Front Sight tell you, course
by course, how many rounds you will need. In the case of
the Four Day Defensive Handgun course, they say to plan on
expending about 600 rounds, and I think I ended up firing a
little more than that. If you run out of your own
ammunition, you can of course buy more from Front Sight.
Note that if you are renting
a gun from Front Sight, you have to buy ammunition from them
rather than bring your own. That might seem like a sneaky
trick, but I can understand their policy. Bad
ammunition can accelerate the wear on a gun, and can even cause
stoppages and blockages and dangerous miss-fires. They
don't really want that to happen to you with your own gun, and
they definitely don't want it to happen to their own gun.
If you bring your own
ammunition, Front Sight will ask to inspect a sample box of it
when you first arrive to confirm it is acceptable. They do
not allow reloads.
Shipping Ammunition to your
One option is to buy a
quantity of ammunition at a discount mailorder store and have
them ship it directly to your Pahrump hotel. This is
perhaps the very best solution of all.
Both the Best Western and
the Nugget will accept shipments of ammunition and hold them for
Unfortunately the Saddle
West refuses to accept/hold ammunition, and they seem in general
to be the least firearm friendly of the three hotels, so unless
there's a compelling reason to support a firearm unfriendly
hotel, you'll probably choose not to stay there.
Note also our suggestion to
buy ammunition (and anything else you might need) at the Bass
Pro shop at the Silverton Casino upon arrival - see the
bottom of page three of
this part of the series. The downside of this is that
you will have little spare time and few other options if the
Bass Pro shop doesn't have the item you seek, so this is perhaps
more an emergency solution than a sensible strategy.
Walmart - Order ahead for best
There is also a Walmart in
Pahrump (about a mile or so further on Hwy 160 after the Best
Western, on the left side of the highway) with good prices on
ammunition, but with an unreliable stock of ammunition (when we
visited in October, they had no .45 ammo and only a small supply
of 9mm in non-bulk packs (ie at a higher cost).
One reader says that he has
telephoned to Walmart several weeks before attending a course
and placed an order with them for ammunition. Walmart has
set the quantity aside and it is ready and waiting for him when
he gets to the store. That is a great idea, too.
Front Sight Ammunition Options
Front Sight can sell you
pretty much any ammunition you might require, and their prices
are similar to regular retail, but a couple of dollars a box
higher than Walmart or mail order.
Gun Cleaning Supplies
Until now I've been rather
obsessive at cleaning my weapons any time I fire them. And
I would fastidiously clean them to the point of using toothbrushes and
dental picks to get every last shred of dirt and residue out of
every nook and cranny of the weapon - a process that could take
half an hour to an hour every time.
Amazingly (to me), the staff at
Front Sight say there's little or no need to clean modern
reliable weapons that are firing modern quality ammunition much at all, and they cite a Glock that has
been fired somewhere between 160,000 and 200,000 times without
any cleaning. One of the instructors is doing his own
torture testing of a Glock, and has fired many tens of thousands of
rounds without ever cleaning it.
I find it hard to completely
abandon my earlier obsessive cleaning habit, but after long days
on the range, all I would do was a quick field strip, a couple
of pulls through the barrel, a general wipe-down then drop a few
drops of oil around the gun before reassembling. Total
time spent - less than five minutes.
The second time I attended,
I didn't even do this, and ended up shooting something over 600
rounds without even the slightest bit of cleaning or
So there's no need to bring
much in the way of cleaning supplies. And that's perhaps
just as well, as you might get a bit of push-back from the TSA
if they discover a large bottle of solvent in your gun bag due
to it probably being prominently marked as 'inflammable'.
Front Sight Cleaning Supplies
You can buy all the cleaning
supplies you're likely to need at their Pro Store. None
are provided with their rental gun kits, because you don't have
to clean the rental gun.
Buying Ammunition and other
Supplies in the Pahrump Area
Most airlines limit you to
only 11 lbs of ammo that you can take with you - that's not
quite 500 rounds of 9mm, and considerably less for larger
calibers. So even if you're planning on bringing your own,
you'll probably not be able to bring all you want.
At the intersection of Hwy
160 and I-15, on the Pahrump side of Las Vegas is the Silverton
Casino. You'll drive right by it when going between the
airport and Pahrump. Inside is an enormous humongous Bass
Pro store that has every possible thing a shooter could ever
want, and at generally good prices. Simply go in the main casino
entrance (free parking is opposite the entrance), turn right,
and there it is.
The store is open 9 - 9
Monday to Saturday and 9 - 7 on Sundays. Why not stop off
there on your way to Pahrump and pick up whatever last minute
things you might need in the way of ammo and other bits and
pieces. More details
here if you want to be sure they have something in stock.
There is a Walmart in
Pahrump itself that has a somewhat limited range of ammunition
and other shooting supplies, but which has a major advantage -
it is open 24 hrs a day (on the left side of Hwy 160 as you
drive in to town, about a mile further down the road than the
There are other gun and
sporting shops in
the Pahrump area too (a Big 5, for example), but their opening hours are more limited
and the chances are you would not be able to get to them before
or after a full day at Front Sight.
Lastly on this point, please
note that Murphy's Law dictates that if you forget an essential
item, or don't have time to buy it before you arrive in Nevada,
you'll find that all the gun stores and also Front Sight's Pro
Shop have sold out of the item you need. It is much better
to bring everything you need with you than to rely on being able
to buy anything once you get there, besides which, the time
pressures acting on you during a Front Sight course greatly
limit your free time and ability to go shopping.
Part of a multi-part series
Please click the links at
the top right of this page to read through
other parts of this extensive series on Front Sight and the
training they offer.
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11 Sep 2010, last update
21 Jan 2018
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